After a four-month national search, Elon University has narrowed its list of candidates for dean of the School of Communications to four people. Paul Parsons, the founding dean of the school 17 years ago, announced in November he would be stepping down to return as a professor. 

According to an email from Steven House, provost and executive vice president, the new dean will be announced mid-April. His or her anticipated start date is June 1.

In an email, David Copeland and Ann Bullock, co-chairs of the dean search committee, said the candidates will offer 30-minute presentations followed by Q&A sessions starting next week that are open to the public in Turner Theatre. Those times are Feb. 26 from 4-5 p.m., March 1 from 4-5 p.m., March 5 from 4-5 p.m. and March 8 from 4:15-5:15 p.m. 

Brooke Barnett 

Brooke Barnett is the only internal candidate for the new dean. Barnett, associate provost of academic and inclusive excellence and a professor of communications at Elon, is also chair of the School of Communications Media Board, which oversees different aspects of student media. She is also a member of the president's senior staff and was recently appointed to serve on the board for the Association of American Colleges and Universities, a leading national higher education association.  

According to her faculty and staff biography, Barnett served as executive director of the Sunshine Center of the North Carolina Open Government Coalition, chair of Elon’s Academic Council, director of the Elon program for documentary production, senior fellow and advisor to the president and a faculty administrative fellow and special assistant to the president. 

Barnett came to Elon in 2001 after teaching at Indiana University. She earned her doctorate in mass communications at Indiana. 

Sonya Duhé              

Sonya Duhé is the director of the School of Mass Communication at Loyola University in New Orleans, as well as a professor of communications. She is also a professor in the School of Journalism and Mass Communications and the School of Environment according to her Loyola University biography page. 

Before working at Loyola, Duhé worked as a communications assistant to the University of South Carolina president, was associate vice president in the office of research and health sciences and was special assistant to the provost for strategic directions and initiatives. 

Duhé received her doctorate in journalism from the University of Missouri in 1993. She was an anchor and reporter at WVLA-TV, the NBC local affiliated television station, from 1994-1998.

Rochelle Ford

Rochelle Ford is the chair of the public relations department and a professor at Syracuse University. Ford also serves as a Provost’s faculty fellow. 

Before starting at Syracuse in 2014, Ford was a faculty member and administrator at Howard University starting in 1998. 

According to her Syracuse University biography page, Ford earned her doctorate from Southern Illinois University and her public relations accreditation from the Universal Accreditation Board. Ford also holds graduate certificates in management and leadership from Harvard University. 

Awards she has received include the Public Relations Society of America's national D. Parke Gibson Multiculturalism Award, PRSA’s National Capital Chapter Diversity Champion Award, the National Black Public Relations Society Founders Award, the International Award for Innovative Teaching, Learning & Technology and PRWeek’s 30 Under 30 Award.

Bill Silcock 

Bill Silcock is an associate professor at the Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication at Arizona State University. Silcock serves as the curator of the U.S. State Department’s Hubert H. Humphrey Fulbright Fellowship program and the director of Cronkite Global Initiatives. 

Before working at Arizona State, Silcock worked as a faculty member at the Missouri school of Journalism while working as managing editor at KOMU-TV in Columbia, Missouri. Silcock also led the RTDNA management seminar for news executives, according to his Arizona State University biography page. 

Silcock received his doctorate from the University of Missouri in 2001. 

Emmanuel Morgan and Jackie Pascale, managing editor and executive director, contributed to this report.